- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

RICHMOND — A bill that would bring Virginia law in line with recently-enacted federal legislation changing the makeup of the embattled Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) advanced in the Virginia House of Delegates Wednesday, over objections that the measure was being rushed.

Delegate Joe T. May, Loudoun Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced the bill, which would align Virginia law with a measure shepherded through Congress by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican. It would add two Virginia members to the MWAA’s board of directors, bar members from serving beyond their terms and stipulate that they can be removed from their post for cause.

Mr. May described the bill, which passed second reading Wednesday on a voice vote and still faces a final vote in the House, as a “relatively simple housekeeping measure.”

“The sooner we do it, the better,” he said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, appointed Todd Stottlemyer, chief executive of the technology firm Acentia, which recently announced it was moving its headquarters from Silver Spring to Fairfax, and McLean businesswoman Caren Merrick, who lost a bid for state Senate last year, to the board last month after Mr. Wolf’s legislation made it through Congress and was signed by President Obama. They have not been seated yet. MWAA maintains that Virginia and the District have to take their own legislative action before the federal law can take effect.

The law would expand the board of directors from 13 to 17 seats. Maryland and the District would each be able to add one more member. Virginia had five representatives on the board, the District and Maryland had three members apiece, and the federal government had two members.

“We need to do our ministerial act since they are dragging their feet to do this,” said Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, a frequent critic of the MWAA board.

Delegate Vivian E. Watts, Fairfax Democrat, said she shared the concern that the assembly pass something as soon as possible to conform with Mr. Wolf’s measure, but added that rushing it through could have dire legal consequences. The measure sailed through the Transportation Committee on the first day of the session.

“It’s only a few day’s worth of looking at the language and getting it right,” she said. “If we say we’re supposed to conform and we don’t conform, then that’s another aspect of a legal suit.”

House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, Charlottesville Democrat, moved that the measure be re-referred to the Transportation Committee, but that motion was rejected.

An emergency clause that would allow the legislation to take effect immediately after it is passed and signed by the governor had been stripped out of the measure, but was put back in on Wednesday. Emergency legislation needs a four-fifths supermajority vote to be passed.

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